5 Reasons Why You Should do the Inca Trail

Ancient Inca City of Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Peru
Ancient Inca City of Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Peru © Art of Escapism

Although Machu Picchu is easily accessible by train, many people still choose to undertake the 4-day pilgrimage to the ancient wonder by foot – known as the Classic Inca Trail. And for good reason, it has been often hailed as one of the greatest hikes in the world.

But if that wasn’t enough to convince you, walking through the dramatic landscape of the Andes, Amazonian jungle, encountering wildlife and ruins on the way is an opportunity to get closer to the roots of Peruvian culture. 

Below are some of the top reasons why you should opt for the hike (instead of taking the train!).

Already doing the Inca Trail? Here are some tips on another picturesque trail to the majestic Rainbow Mountain.

Challenge Yourself

Train on the way to Machu Picchu alongside the Urubamba River
Train on the way to Machu Picchu alongside the Urubamba River © Art of Escapism

Let’s face it – taking the train to Machu Picchu may feel a bit like cheating. If you are healthy and physically capable, take the leap and challenge yourself with this amazing 4-day adventure while you still can. Go in the footsteps of Hiram Bingham – the explorer who discovered this wonder of the world.

You don’t need to be super fit to do it, although doing some longer hikes and adjusting to the high altitude beforehand could definitely help. At the end you will feel a great sense of accomplishment, but it’s also an opportunity to get to know your body’s limits better.

Meet Some Like Minded People

A group of hikers in the misty Andes during the Inca Trail, Peru
A group of hikers in the misty Andes during the Inca Trail, Peru © Art of Escapism

Since 2011 it’s not possible to do the Inca Trail independently, however there are plenty of great tours available with knowledgeable and passionate local guides. 

The great thing about going in a group is that you can bond over your experiences and make some friends along the way. It’s also a great opportunity for solo travellers. Facing the challenges of climbing altitude, constantly changing weather and even illness together contributes to a strong spirit of camaraderie. Who knows, you might even make some friends for life.

See Otherwise Inaccessible Inca Ruins

The Inca Ruins of Winay Wayna, Peru
The Inca Ruins of Winay Wayna, Peru © Art of Escapism

Machu Picchu may be the cherry on the cake, but along the way there are some breathtaking Inca sites that are not accessible otherwise. You will have a chance to see the Llactapata terraces and the ruins of Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, Intipata and Winay Wayna.

Not to mention the countless opportunities to take pictures of the beautiful Andes shrouded in clouds and mist. The feeling like you’re on top of the world is unbeatable.

Get One of The Best Views at Sunrise

View of the Ancient City of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate, Sacred Valley, Peru
View of the Ancient City of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate, Sacred Valley, Peru © Art of Escapism

The 4th day is usually an early 4:00 start, but the idea is to walk through the Sun Gate at dawn. From the Sun Gate location overlooking Machu Picchu you will have a chance to take some stunning photos and get a glimpse of the ancient city before most of the tourists arrive.

From here you’re only 2 hours away from your destination!

Rediscover Your Appreciation for Everyday Things

Hot Springs in Aguas Calientes, Peru
Hot Springs in Aguas Calientes, Peru © Art of Escapism

After 4 days of not showering and questionable hygiene routines you will undoubtedly have a newfound appreciation for the everyday conveniences modern life has to offer. It’s human nature to take things for granted. Only when something is not readily available do we start to appreciate it. Going without will allow you to reflect on what you do have and feel grateful for it. 

Lucky all can be quickly redeemed on your 4th day, as once you are done with your Machu Picchu sightseeing you will end up in the small village of Aguas Calientes, literally meaning ‘hot waters’. There are natural hot springs in the village and I’d like to think that karma provided these as reward for weary travellers to hop into after your great accomplishment of completing the Inca Trail.

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